1. One State, One Rate!

A revenue-neutral proposal to end Maryland’s subsidy of rich jurisdictions by poor jurisdictions
through the property tax system

By Bill Marker, Esq.
February 2016
Version 3.16

Click on the link below for table of statistics
OSOR 2016

The State of Maryland’s Real Property Tax System allows each county and Baltimore City to set its own tax rate. Thus a Marylander living in Talbot County pays only $1,072 in taxes on a $200,000 home, while a Marylander living in Baltimore City pays $4,496 on a $200,000 home. Put another way, a resident of Talbot County pays the same taxes on an $838,806 house as a Baltimore City resident pays on a $200,000 house. This reverse Robin Hood scheme unreasonably transfers resources from poor folks to rich folks. It can be argued that a tax system should tax all people equally or that wealth should be transferred from rich to poor. It cannot, however, be reasonably argued that a tax system should cause the poor to subsidize the rich, and yet that is exactly what the current Maryland tax system does. Over 56% of all Marylanders are overburdened by this inequitable system, and perhaps many of the subsidized among the remaining 44% will recognize the injustice of the current system.

Our Property Tax System should be revised so that every Marylander pays the same rate: One State, One Rate! All the receipts should go to a single, state-wide fund. Initially, the tax revenue allocation could be disbursed to the counties (and Baltimore City) based on each jurisdiction’s percentage of total State population. Over time, justice/good public policy may call for greater distribution to jurisdictions with greater needs. Beneficiaries of the One State, One Rate! proposal would include not only residents of Baltimore City, but also the residents of Allegany, Baltimore, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Prince George’s, Saint Mary’s, Somerset, Washington, and Wicomico counties.

The benefits of the One State, One Rate! proposal go beyond basic decency and fairness. The One State, One Rate proposal is a Smart Growth proposal. Baltimore City’s current, excessive tax rate is driving potential residents away from the city towards sprawling locations.

Not all questions concerning this proposal are addressed herein, including:

 Will the proposal require only legislative action, or is it a constitutional matter?

 How do municipal property taxes and special tax districts change the numbers?

 How does any Statewide property tax affect this proposal?

 How would current formula aid programs, such as for education, libraries and health, be affected by this proposal?

 Should One State One Rate! extend to personal property tax rates? The current, high personal property tax rate on computers, medical equipment and other items is a deterrent to businesses considering locating or remaining in Baltimore City.

 Should One State One Rate! also apply to the piggyback portion of income taxes?

Discussion of the general concept of this proposal and its details are welcome.

BILL MARKER is an attorney with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. He previously served as a Public Defender dealing with Child In Need of Assistance matters. Bill serves Pigtown on the Economic Development Committee of the Local Development Council (the Casino committee) and represents Barre Circle on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Partnership, Inc. His community leadership has included serving as President of Citizens of Pigtown, Secretary of the Maryland Professional Employees Council, AFT-MD, AFL-CIO, a member of the Democratic Central Committee, and Vice President of Congregation Beit Tikvah. Bill has also chaired the Nominations Committee for the Southern District Police Community Relations Council and served on the boards of both the Washington Village/Pigtown Neighborhood Planning Council and the Friends of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

This proposal is written by Bill as a citizen, not as a State Employee.

To comment on this proposal contact Bill at wmmarker@gmail.com or call 443 827-6669.